PQC: what can I say now about what I have said for many years?
Australian Federal Police raid the offices of the country’s national broadcaster over a series of government leaks related to unlawful killings in Afghanistan
- Australian Federal Police on Wednesday morning raided the Sydney offices of the country’s national broadcaster.
- The raids were related to The Afghan Files, a series of 2017 leaked documents published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The documents alleged that Australian special forces engaged in unlawful killings and gross misconduct in Afghanistan.
- According to the ABC, federal police raided their Ultimo offices around 11:30 am local time.
- News of the ABC raid comes at the heels of a raid of the home of Australian political journalist Annika Smethurst, over reports that the Australian government was considering new surveillance measures on its citizens.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Wednesday morning raided the Sydney offices of the country’s national broadcaster over a series of leaked government documents published in 2017, which allege misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan.
According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, federal police raided their Ultimo offices around 11:30 am local time.
Video from Sydney Morning Herald Journalist Lucy Cormack shows the moment AFP officers arrived at the ABC headquarters.
AFP officers arrive at ABC centre in Ultimo for raids related to a 2017 leak of defence files pic.twitter.com/u0RgWaXNfY
— Lucy Cormack (@LucyCormack) June 5, 2019
ABC reported that the raids were related to The Afghan Files, a series of 2017 government leaks published by the ABC. The leaked documents alleged that Australian special forces engaged in unlawful killings and misconduct in Afghanistan, including the killing of unarmed Afghan men in 2012 and the flying of a Nazi flag on an Australian army vehicle.
John Lyons, Executive Editor and Head of Investigative Journalism at the ABC, said on Twitter that AFP handed over a warrant naming two reporters and a news director linked to the publishing of The Afghan Files, including investigative journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark.
Managing Director at the ABC, David Anderson, said in a statement that the raids raised “legitimate concerns over freedom of the press.”
“It is highly unusual for the national broadcaster to be raided in this way,” Anderson continued. “This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and Defence matters.”
He added that the broadcaster “stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest.”
The AFP said in a statement that they executed a search warrant on the ABC headquarters in relation to “allegations of publishing classified material,” which would constitute a criminal offence.
“All AFP search warrants are authorised by a magistrate or an appropriate member of the judiciary,” the statement said. The AFP later added that the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, was not notified prior to the execution of the warrants.
The AFP also stated that “no arrests are planned today as a result of this activity,” and that the activity is not linked to a search warrant executed in Canberra on Tuesday local time.
The Tuesday warrant was for the home of Australian political journalist Annika Smethurst, over reports that the Australian government was considering new surveillance measures on its citizens.
In a statement, the AFP confirmed to Business Insider Australia that it had executed a search warrant on the home in Canberra in connection “to an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the AFP’s raid of Smethurst’s home, saying that he was not “troubled” by government agencies upholding federal laws.
“Australia believes strongly in the freedom of the press and we have clear rules and protections for the freedom of the press,” he told journalists in London on Tuesday.
“There are also clear rules protecting Australia’s national security and everybody should operate in accordance with all of those laws passed by our parliament … It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld,” Morrison continued.
Business Insider contacted Australia’s Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance for comment.
Federal police raid home of Australian journalist who revealed government’s proposal to spy on the public
The AFP raided a journalist’s house.
The home of an Australian political journalist has been raided by Australian Federal Police on Tuesday morning.
The raid follows a story published by News Corp Australia publication, the Daily Telegraph, and written by national political editor, Annika Smethurst, in April 2018. The article, titled “Spying shock: Shades of Big Brother as cyber-security vision comes to light”, detailed a discussion between two government agencies that were reportedly discussing the potential for new surveillance powers for Australia’s electronic spy agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).
The Daily Telegraph article included photographs of top secret internal documents that detailed a proposal to allow the ASD to target Australians — if approved by the Defence and Home Affairs ministers.
An anonymous source told the publication the proposal would allow spies to access the digital records of Australians, such as financial transactions, health data and phone records, without a warrant.
The proposal also detailed a plan to grant authorities the ability to forcibly coerce government agencies and private businesses to comply with an order to provide information on Australian citizens, the Telegraph reported.
It would also allow for the ASD’s hackers to “proactively disrupt and covertly remove” cyber threats within Australia by “hacking into critical infrastructure”, it said. The organisation is currently focused on international threats.
Under Australian law, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) can spy on Australians but they must have obtained a warrant issued by the Attorney-General. The warrant allows ASIO to enter and search premises, intercept and inspect mail, use surveillance devices, monitor communications and remotely access computers. It is expected to use other methods before using these powers.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed via a statement that it had executed a search warrant on the home in Canberra in connection “to an investigation into the alleged unauthorised disclosure of national security information.”
According to the statement, the AFP will allege the release of the documents in a national security breach. The AFP stated that “no arrests are expected today as a result of this activity”.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Smethurst was leaving for work this morning when police officers turned up at her home. They had a warrant from a magistrate that allowed them to search her home, computer and mobile phone.
“The Australian public’s right to know information about government laws that could impact their lives is of fundamental importance in our society,” News Corp Australia said in a statement.
“This raid demonstrates a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths. The raid was outrageous and heavy handed.
“News Corp Australia has expressed the most serious concerns about the willingness of governments to undermine the Australian public’s right to know about important decisions governments are making that can and will impact ordinary Australian citizens.
“What’s gone on this morning sends clear and dangerous signals to journalists and newsrooms across Australia. This will chill public interest reporting.”
NGO Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) told Business Insider Australia via email that the police raid was “authoritarian intimidation” and that we are all entitled to live in a free society without fear of bullying by police.
“We need to have a debate about Australians’ rights to privacy and security, and it needs to be held out in the open with the participation of civil society,” a spokesperson for EFA said.
“Exposing the government’s secret plans for yet more surveillance of our everyday lives is clearly in the public interest. This heavy-handed reaction from the government, and so soon after being returned to government after an expected loss, indicates that this is about consolidating power, not keeping us safe. That should scare anyone who wants Australia to be a free society.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the raid and said he believed it was not an attack on the freedom of the press.
“Australia believes strongly in the freedom of the press and we have clear rules and protections for freedom of the press,” Mr Morrison said, according to ABC.
“There are also clear rules protecting Australia’s national security and everybody should operate in accordance with all of those laws passed by our Parliament.
“I support the powers that the agencies have under our laws.”